The national housing market is slowly crawling back from historic lows. Does this iffy environment change the basic “must-dos” for prepping, staging, and showing a house for sale?
Much of the same rules still apply: Cut clutter and depersonalize, scrub surfaces, replace burned-out light bulbs, plant flowers. But as the market improves, edging out the competition with home aesthetics, condition, and accessibility is increasingly important.
In these market conditions, some agents will refuse a listing that is not staged to sell.
Open houses pick up in the fall thanks to mild weather; this fall looks to bring some of the best traffic prospects of the last few years. The NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index shows a market where a growing number of agents report multiple bidding, pockets of low inventories, and a resurgence of buyer “interest” compared to recent months.
It was true before the recession and it remains true today. Most prospective home buyers use an online search to narrow their possibilities well in advance of ever crossing the threshold. According to a Coldwell Banker survey, 92 percent of buyers start their search online.
Therefore, budgeting staging money for a set of high-quality photographs showcasing square footage, good flow, and important features inside and out will be money well spent. You should aim to have your house in ready-to-show shape at a moment’s notice, although busy family life can make “perfect” impossible. Perfect photos, on the other hand, can do much of the work for sellers. Use a variety of online listing services to show those photos. Plus, personal or agent-driven buzz on Facebook and Twitter is common in today’s market.
If your selling strategy calls for remodeling, your time and resources might best be spent in the kitchen. Computer stations and recharging areas for electronic devices were the kitchen features that residential architects reported as increasing the most in. Next on the list: family space, which continues the longstanding popularity of combining household living space with kitchen space; recycling centers; expanded pantry space; and wine storage. Adaptability and universal design are increasingly popular as aging baby boomers contemplate their future needs.
Environmental sustainability continues to be a theme. Renewable-material flooring and countertops topped the list of products increasing the most in popularity, followed by drinking-water filtration systems. Natural wood cabinets were a bit further down the popularity list, as were upper-end appliances, duplicate appliances, and natural stone countertops.
Surveys continue to indicate that staging and remodeling will most likely enhance the profit you make when selling your home. The old saying, “You have to spend money to make money” may very well be something to keep in mind if you are contemplating putting your house on the market.
“Best Home Improvements to Please Picky Spring Buyer.” – US News and World Report. Web. 15 June 2012.
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